Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Paracas, Peru: Peruvian penguins and sandboarding

We then traded the high altitude of Cusco for sea level at the coastal town of Paracas, about 3.5 hours south of Lima.

The first day was a pure and simple travel day, with a flight from Cusco to Lima was of course delayed (thanks again, Star Peru!) and we barely made it to our bus- they were calling our names over the intercom and we rushed in. We had booked our bus ahead of time and they were comfortable with personalized TVs. I don't think I could get my subtitles to work, but hey, a movie is a movie. 

Paracas is a great jumping off point for a couple of different activities. Nazca lines are nearby, sandboarding in Huacachina is even closer, and a tour of Islas Ballestas to SEE PENGUINS. THERE ARE PENGUINS. Let that sink in a little bit.
Paracas is like the poor man's Galapagos Islands. And because we couldn't swing the cost or the time of a Galapagos trip, we found ourselves here.  

A tour of Islas Ballestas and Paracas National Park are offered by a guided boat tour. It was delightful to get out on the water and see penguins and sea lions. Less delightful was the smelling of the sea lions, yet it is unavoidable and comes with the territory since we are invading their privacy. 

Colony of sea lions. Hearing hundreds of them bark at once was pretty incredible.

The boat ride was also a two-fer: we also got to see the cactus-shaped carving: the Candelabra. It is one of the Nazca lines put in by aliens? A Masonic symbol placed on the hillside by a general? We'll never know.

Sandboarding near Huacachina

In the afternoon we had one of the most pure fun activities of the trip: sandboarding in the sandboarding capitol of the world, Huacachina. It was the most fun you'll ever have getting sand places you wouldn't imagine. :) kidding, only kind of.

We booked our tour at an agency in Paracas and scheduled for the last tour of the day. We arrived a little late and got our own dune-buggy to ourselves which was awesome! Part of the fun is driving so fast through the dunes- it was such a thrill. Those seat belts aren't just for show!

Each dune-buggy comes with all of the gear you need to sled down the dunes. If you want to snowboard, you need to request ahead of time (none of us board so we stuck with sledding).

In between the boarding, the dune buggy would pick us up and take us to the next hill. We enjoyed a stunning sunset and would definitely recommend the last tour of the day.

Our taxi ride to Haucachina was interesting to say the least. The woman at the agency that we booked our dune buggy tour with suggested her friend to be our taxi driver. No problem except that we later learned that he was not a registered taxi driver. Which became a big problem for him. We embarked on our journey (about an hour or so) and about halfway there we got pulled over. As the officer was walking up to our car, our driver said to us in Spanish, "Tell them that we are friends and that we met on the beach and I'm just taking you for free..." So.....not an official taxi driver. After being delayed for a long time, our driver was given a hefty fine and we were on our way. Only to get pulled over again. Oi. We eventually made it (a bit late) but, for the sake of your driver, make sure it is official.

That evening we tried to stargaze because different hemisphere = different stars. Not that we know anything about astronomy. In the morning, we lounged in our Airbnb's pool before catching a bus back to Lima.

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